Govia Thameslink Railway is temporarily sub-leasing six of its Gatwick Express Class 387/2 units to Great Western Railway to help provide extra resilience and additional capacity where most needed. The first three units - 387204, 205 & 206 - left Hornsey depot in north London on the 13 July. In late April, Hitachi 800 Intercity Express Trains were withdrawn from service on GWR and other operators after cracks to the lifting points were found. The loan of trains from GTR will support GWR whilst Hitachi continue their work to maintain the fleet and put in motion a long-term repair programme. GTR can spare the trains because it has temporarily suspended its Gatwick Express services while passenger numbers at the airport remain very low because of Covid-19. GTR Chief Operating Officer Steve White said: “We’re committed to bringing back our Gatwick Express services when passenger numbers recover but, in the meantime, releasing these trains to help passengers and colleagues at GWR is the right thing to do.” Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “At the end of a very difficult period, it is pleasing to see the railway family supporting one another to ensure passengers get the best possible service. This industry collaboration will ensure that passengers have the resilient services they deserve as they return to the railways.” GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “The industry has come together to help support those travelling – sharing rolling stock to provide it to those who need it most, and I am grateful to our colleagues at GTR for the loan of these vehicles. These additional trains will provide far greater resilience for passengers and will also enable us to provide some extra space where it is needed most – for example adding extra carriages on some of our in-demand school train services. The units will be returned to GTR when required for use on its own network. GTR’s Gatwick Express fleet of 27 Class 387/2s is being currently used to support mostly Southern services, although six were also sent north to assist Great Northern when the last of its Class 365 fleet was retired in May to save costs for taxpayers.
With Department for Transport consent, three units were loco-hauled to GWR on 13 July. The second tranche of three units will follow at a later date in July.
GTR will adjust the deployment of its remaining fleet to continue to provide sufficient rolling stock for its current timetable.